Hopefully this will make up for my lack of activity recently. I will get round to uploading more traps when I actually decide who is worthy!
I’m going to review a Swedish film and its American remake in one go. There’ll be a little comparing and contrasting but I assure you that there will be no film bashing! I don’t believe that either film is better than the other and that they are both outstanding films on their own merits.
The basic story of these films is as follows: A young downtrodden boy of the age of 12 is having a tough time both at home and at school, his parents are separated and he has the most horrific bullies. During this time of hardship he develops a friendship with a strange new neighbour. A girl of the same age with a terrible secret, she needs to consume blood to live. The stories of these two films are nearly scene for scene the same with a few minor exceptions. Personally I’d say it doesn’t matter if you only watch one or both you’ll still get the same amount of enjoyment out of them. The only major difference with the stories is that the narrative, in the American version it’s told ‘in medias res’ meaning that the film starts partway through the story and then flashbacks to loop back round again and then end whereas the Swedish version is told chronologically.
In Swedish the boy’s name is Oskar and the girl’s name is Eli. In the American it’s Owen and Abby respectively.
I hate to use the term ‘vampire movie’ since this genre has been heavily tarred by the release of the Twilight Saga in recent years alongside such alternatives as ‘Daybreakers’ you don’t really imagine a positive image of a film when you realise it falls into this subcategory. So yes, these films are about a vampire but They are also horror films to their very core.
I want to discuss various points about this film in a bit of detail. Towards the end of the review I’ll enter spoiler territory but I’ll put a ‘read more’ tag in there to cover it up so don’t worry!
The first thing I noticed of both films was the scenery, being nearly identical in both. You could have almost swore that they used the same outer set for the apartment complex in which the characters live. It’s very stark due to the plain design of the buildings and the crisp white snow. The interiors of the sets are much the same, mundane magnolia paint and plain furniture. This makes the setting seem understated which works to the films credit, and I believe makes the horror scenes even more terrifying just by taking place in these completely normal surroundings.
The American version of the film makes use of the fact that it’s the 80’s but it doesn’t really rub it in your face. Just subtle things such as the music the characters listen to and the type of candy the main character eats. I think this was a nice touch.
Now, camera work. This was bound to come up since the American film had the director of Cloverfield working on it. I wasn’t aware of this until after I had watched the film in the cinema which is good because it didn’t taint my expectations of what the film would be like. The Swedish film didn’t really have any fancy camera work but the angles things were shot from and the fact that there were a lot of wide shots added to the stark nature of the film.
In the American version however there were a few things I picked up upon which were actually very interesting, for example there were quite a few ‘point of view’ camera shots which really pulled you into the atmosphere and gravity of the film. One scene in particular stands out – there is a car crash scene where the whole sequence is shot from when the car pulls out of a petrol station and crashes really horrifically which is shot as if you were a passenger in that car. Very good effects, made the scene particularly gripping.
One other aspect of the camera work in the American version really made me think. During the course of the film you never once see the face of Owen’s mum clearly make of this what you will but I believe that it correlates strongly to Owen’s detachment from his family life and that his mother is never in focus because Owen doesn’t consider her to be very important. Whatever the directors reason for doing this he managed to pull it off.
Now, let’s talk gore. The Swedish film was cursed with something called low production values so it’s not that the gore was any less traumatising just that it was not as detailed as it’s American counterpart. So whilst the American version had a higher budget allowing for more gore I don’t think this enhanced the film. I will mention one thing about the American film the CG was not very convincing in the scenes where Abby attacks people, it looked very fake a little bit of a bad decision but nothing that can’t be overlooked.
Onto a different topic. The nature of Oskar/Owen and Eli/Abby’s relationship. And this is where I get into spoiler territory! Read no further if you wish to remain unspoiled!
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